I should qualify that title statement a bit — don’t get me wrong. I find myself utterly fascinating. After all, I spend a lot of time with me. I write about me (what else is blogging after all?). I sometimes meet friends for coffee and talk about myself at least some of the time (at least during the time we’re not talking about their children).
So what do I mean?
Basically I’m complaining about having to go to the doctor. Or rather, about going to doctors for the first time. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist. He’s great — I like him a lot. But he’s not a long term therapist. Rather, he’s the one who’s diagnosed me (bipolar I with anxiety disorder in case you’re keeping track) and keeps track of my lithium dosage and blood readings.* Anyway, he’s been great and wants me to find a therapist. Ever the obedient patient, I determined to do as told.
However, rather than just taking a referral, I decided it would be far easier to use the student counseling services on campus. This would mean, thought I, that I could just go to therapy once a week on my lunch hour. So I made an appointment (explaining the situation on the phone to the intake person), filled out yet another pile o’ forms with statements about my feelings, past treatments, family history and the like. When I got to the office yesterday, I was met with yet another pile of forms. This is a university and I work here so I knew better than to argue. I just filled the damn things out out and turned them in.
My next step was a meeting with Rebecca, a graduate psych student doing clinical practice (like, she’d be practicing on me). That’s cool, she seemed nice enough. We went through 45 minutes of discussion about why I was there, questions about my history, my goals and then my feelings. I had no thoughts for her on my feelings — I felt fine (other than being a little hungry due to the lack of lunch).
Then she started talking in that very gentle, I-hope-you’re-not-going-to-be-angry-or-melt-down way. Rebecca told me she wanted to refer me off campus to a counseling psychiatrist or psychologist. That the center now had a policy of only doing 12 sessions with any student in a given year and she felt I’d be better off with someone who I could see in an on-going fashion without needing to worry about running into the that limit. Plus, since I have a medical diagnosis of a specific disorder, there would be no problem with insurance coverage even off campus. As I listened, I wasn’t in danger of melting down, but my first thought was "damn, I so don’t want to introduce myself again."
There’s nothing for it of course. She’s right — a private therapist is definitely the way to go. Before anyone says it, I know I’m really fortunate. I live in Santa Monica where there’s no shortage of mental health professionals and I’ll be able to take my pick. My insurance coverage as a student is good. Pablo’s coverage as a university employee is even better. But even when I’m feeling good, this sort of intake is agony. I hate talking to strangers**, especially about myself. Especially about what’s going on in my head, which is my own private domain. I keep myself feeling safe a lot of times by making sure to let people talk about themselves and not talking about the things that I feel are private and important to me. I’m not just introverted — most of the time I’m shy too.
This blog entry is just a little whine, there’s nothing for it and the appointments will have to be made. I’m just glad that I won’t get the referrals until Thursday. With the Friday holiday that means the earliest I can even start making appointments is July 7.
*this is apparently very important as there’s a rather fine line between the therapeutic and toxic blood level of lithium. Knowing this does not help with my anxiety issues, but the lithium does seem to be a helpful mood stabilizing drug.
**writing to strangers in a blog is apparently a completely different matter.